Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adalyn's Quilt

I finished the last of the quilting on Monday evening, June 9th, about 6 p.m. Talk about getting down to the wire! Before Ivan and I left the next day, Tina and I put together our package that included lots of adorable baby clothes, along with the quilt, and sent it merrily on its way to California. Jon and Nat received the package the next Monday and they filmed their opening the box and all the goodies, then put together a really cute video. Don't you just love technology?!

Because I'm determined to do a better job of documenting things like this, be forewarned this is a photo-heavy, looooong post. So if you'd rather, just skip to the end to see the finished product :)

Y'all know that Jon and Nat decided to go with a science and math theme in the nursery. Initially they wanted a yellow-white-gray-black color scheme. Hmmmm, how do you make a math and/or science themed quilt in those colors?!

Spoiler alert: I ended up going with my very first design idea! That's not to say I didn't agonize over a number of different designs for months, but I kept going back to my original idea.

So what was it? Here's my very crude, initial, hand-drawn sketch, that elicited a rather tepid response from Ivan when I showed it to him.
And it didn't fare much better when I sent this picture to a couple of others.

Which left me thinking that maybe it really wasn't a good idea at all. 

And yet it incorporated the colors they wanted AND fit the science theme. I should also back up and explain that I had Jon and Nat look at my Pinterest quilt board where I've pinned ideas for inspiration, to get an idea of their style. I also googled math and science quilts and sent those links to them. Their taste clearly leaned toward the more modern quilts with clean lines, and quilts with large, singular graphics. So the concept of a large microscope and the metamorphosis of a butterfly seemed ideal.

In the end I had two main contenders: the butterfly quilt and a cool carbon molecule that kind of resembled a soccer ball. I decided if they were having a girl, I'd go with the butterfly and if it was a boy I'd go with the carbon molecule. We all know how the story ends.

Now I'll be the first to admit I'm not an artist and the drawing does not convey my concept very well, so I guess a tepid response was to be expected. And I wasn't really happy with how busy it seemed, but wasn't sure what to do about it. Then Ivan pointed out that with little ones we don't go into the entire story of metamorphosis; we simply tell them "a caterpillar becomes a butterfly". That was just the tip I needed! Removing the eggs and the pupa left the design much cleaner. Perfect!

And as bad as my drawing was, it didn't matter because I wasn't planning to draw it freehand anyway. A few online searches and I'd found some great photos that took the guesswork out of the equation.
I taped a large piece of paper to the wall of the garage, and arranged our projector the right distance away to get things the size I wanted. The butterfly is obviously a little oversized, but I figured I could claim artistic license. To be honest, the making of this quilt involved more than a little artistic license!
master pattern

Since I couldn't find a caterpillar that fit the curve of my microscope, my SIL came to the rescue and drew a nice, fat, juicy caterpillar for me. Yay for artistic sister-in-laws!

I didn't have the fabric I needed to start the quilt while still in Argentina, so that was the first thing on my agenda when we got to the states. Oh, and meanwhile Nat had decided to veer away from the black and gray and go more toward a yellow-white-purple color scheme. Which I thought would make it easier. Wrong! I knew fabric lines, like fashion or home decor, have color fads. And apparently yellow and purple is not a popular color combo these days because I could not find a single solitary purple and yellow print. Not.A.One. So Adalyn's quilt has a lot of solids and tone-on-tone prints but that's it.

And finding the right purples? Oh my goodness. Jon sent me the Pantone app for my iPhone with the colors they really liked. [Which is a WONDERFUL tool, if any of you need to color match something!] So at each fabric store I'd whip out my phone, pull up their purple swatches and... nada. I finally found an acceptable purple (a very subtle tone-on-tone) at Lolly's in Shipshewana. It's a deeper shade but the right hue.

And before you ask, Yes!, there really are purple microscopes. Seeing this on Amazon brought back fond memories of my first microscope. Which I finally got rid of just before we moved to Argentina. It had a lot of sentimental value which is why I held onto it for so long. I had so much fun with that microscope while growing up. I remember going through a stage when I spent all my allowance buying prepared slides with really fun things to look at under the scope.

This was almost completely hand appliquéd, which I really enjoy. The microscope went super fast. The butterfly required more work, trying to figure out the best way to go about it. In the end I did reverse appliqué but cheated a bit by using a glue stick to help keep the black 'seams' in place while hand-sewing the different colors behind (the glue washes out).
The caterpillar was a nightmare, but that was all my own fault. I was suffering from a severe case of DMD and ended up sewing three different caterpillars before I was okay with it. And I'd have done a fourth if I'd had time.
I used the trapunto technique on the caterpillar and the front wing of the butterfly to give it more dimension. The caterpillar is quite "fat and juicy"! 

Once all the appliqué was done I took the top to the fabric store and 'auditioned' various fabrics for the border. SIL Sharon, Tina and I unanimously chose the yellow print with a kind of batik look to it.

I knew I wouldn't have time to quilt it too, because we were going out west for a few weeks. So I found a lady who does hand quilting and hired her. She did a nice job, but didn't exactly do what I asked. Ivan and Tina marked the quilt with a continuous double helix around the border, and with various math symbols and numbers on the main body of the quilt. I asked her to do a meandering stitch around the symbols. While she quilted the border as marked, for some reason she ignored the symbols and numbers entirely and just did a very loose meandering stitch on the main body. And she didn't get it done until Friday, June 6th! I was rather frustrated, but what can you do? ¡Es lo que hay!

Since I was determined to have math symbols and numbers (plus her meandering was so loose there were large unquilted sections), I spent our last few days quilting like mad (even quilted during the ordination council that Saturday!) and, like I said, finished at 6 p.m. on Monday June 9th. You can definitely tell a difference between my not-so-small stitches and the quilter's teeny tiny ones, but I'm okay with that.

I held my breath while washing and drying it, because although I'd pre-washed all the fabrics, there's no guarantee there won't be any bleeding... especially with all that black. This is a quilt I hope Adalyn will love and use for a long time. The black is a Kona solid, and I've always been very happy with that line, and I wasn't disappointed this time either. I did throw in a couple of those sheets that are supposed to absorb any bleeding that occurs in the wash, and whether that helped or not I don't know, but it came out looking great. Whew!

I really liked it, and so did Ivan and Tina, but would Jon and Nat?
Yes, they did! See Nat's smiling face as she holds up the quilt? That smile made me do the happy dance :) 

And now we can hardly wait to see Adalyn wrapped up in it. She's due around the 12th of August, so we don't have too long to wait!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Our last weekend in the U.S.

Not a very creative title for this post, but it's late and it would just be a waste of time trying to think of something clever. I wanted to take advantage of being at our friends-with-wifi today and get up a couple of posts.

One of the main goals of this furlough was for Ivan to go through the ordination process. And it really was a process! He met with one of the pastors from our home church once a week the first month, to go over what they'd be covering. Pastor Rob gave Ivan a list of potential questions that he then worked through, using a 5" x 8" index card for each question; the large size gave him plenty of space to write his answer/thoughts on the other side. He spent time just about every day either working through potential questions and searching through Scripture, or going through his existing cards and quizzing himself. Or having me quiz him.

After we got back from our trip out west, he met with the elders for a mock session. Ivan found that helpful as well as encouraging. In the following weeks he just worked on his own, continuing to think through other questions that might arise. For anyone unfamiliar with ordination, the questions cover the gamut of theology, from Christology to eschatology to angelology... You get the idea.

On Saturday, June 7, our home church hosted the ordination council made up of the elders from that church as well as pastors from other area churches. We specifically asked pastors from nearby supporting churches and were so happy that a few could participate, especially considering how June is a busy month for weddings. We started off with breakfast at 8 a.m. and by 8:45 we were settling into the auditorium and ready to begin.
There was a short break mid-morning and then they resumed their grilling questioning. After lunch Ivan shared our vision for the work in Argentina and explained our philosophy of ministry, and then I was asked to join him and share what I thought about the ordination and our call to be missionaries.
When we were done, the pastors met in a closed-door session to discuss whether they felt comfortable recommending Ivan for ordination. Thankfully it was a unanimous YES!  (Whew! Cue us wiping our brows in relief!)

Sunday mornings our church has two services during the summer, but it's not that one is traditional and the other contemporary or anything. It's just that we have too many people coming to be accommodated in one service so there are two, and they're identical in format. In each service on June 8, Pastor Lillie gave the charge to the church while Wally gave the charge to Ivan (which you can read here on Wally's blog). It was amusing that after they presented Ivan with the certificate of ordination in the first service, he had to give it back, so they could give it to him again in the second :)
The one difference is that during the first service Ivan's brother Aldo prayed when they laid hands on Ivan, and his brother Alan (below) prayed during that segment in the second service.
It was a really special day and we are grateful for our home church and the huge part they've played in our lives. They are the ones who trained us before sending us out, and they've been staunch supporters in every sense of the word. We're also grateful that two of Ivan's brothers could be a part of the ordination. Aldo found someone to fill his pulpit and flew out from Colorado to participate. It was supposed to be a surprise but somebody let the cat out of the bag (no, it wasn't me this time!). And Alan, the one Ivan's closest to in age, took time from his responsibilities in the hispanic ministry in his church so he could be there too.

So now you can call Ivan "The Very Reverend Hoyt".

(Cue hysterical laughter.)  

NOT! He's still just plain Ivan :)

And because I'll use any excuse to share a photo of my grandson, here's one taken during the ordination council on Saturday.

Back to Winter

We've been back in Argentina almost two weeks, and I have to say we have been having a fairly mild streak of weather so far. Saturday was officially the first day of winter, and it was close to 70 degrees that day. Even the coldest days have been in the high 50s, and I can live with that.

I do, however, frequently wear my Cuddl Duds because houses here do not have central heat and it's often colder inside than outside.  It took us a few days to get the temperature in the casita to break 55 degrees, even with our wall heater running full blast. It wasn't until Ivan had the brainstorm to install a small fan just above the heater (which is in the small hallway between the two rooms), facing the bedroom, that the gauge began to edge up. We've managed to keep the temperature between 60-65 ever since.

We have found it necessary to kick the heater up on high at night because, without insulation, the block walls absorb the cold night air, causing the temperature to plummet inside as well as out. We prefer it to be a bit cooler at night anyway, because we both sleep better, so it's not a big deal that it gets down to 60 most nights.

July is just around the corner, though, and we anticipate much colder weather so we're hoping our fan+heater system will prove sufficient.

The day we got back, it was a lovely 72 degrees and sunny, making the transition from summer to winter a little easier. A lot of other things helped ease the transition too.

We had a rocky start to the trip due to horrible traffic in Chicago. We honestly feared we'd miss our flight. And when we did arrive and tried to check in at the little kiosk, we were told we had to see a live person.* Okay, so we get in line, nervously eying the clock. Thankfully the woman who took care of us was a kind, compassionate person who, after informing us that our flight had been moved up to 4:55 instead of 5:45 (we're even later than we thought! Oh no!), quickly took care of our paperwork and then escorted us to the front of the security line.

So we started breathing a little sigh of relief, only to be asked to move aside while they physically searched one of our carry-ons. Silly me, without even thinking, had put my new mandolin slicer in the carry-on because I was worried about it getting busted if I put it into the luggage we checked through. Ugh! I was sure they'd take it away, but again God provided a kind, compassionate person who allowed me to keep it. Whoop!

The clock ticking away, we ran the rest of the way to our gate, arriving just as they started boarding. Since we were in one of the latter groups to board, we had time to catch our breaths. Whew! Then they announced if anyone wanted to check through their carry-ons for free, they could. Ivan said "Why not? Less for us to haul around" so that's what we did (btw, the mandolin slicer came through the experience just fine). And it was really nice during our layovers in Miami and Santiago to have less stuff. As we were boarding a few minutes later, Ivan saw the attendants checking every carry-on to make sure it fit their size parameters, and he's pretty sure one of ours would have been too big. Another example of God's provision.

Good friends, Julio and Magdalena, picked us up from the airport, waiting patiently for us to get through customs. We were some of the last ones off the plane, and therefore almost the last through customs. We landed about noon and it was almost 2 p.m. before we made it out of the airport. For whatever reason (maybe because we were the last in line, and the customs folks were tired?) the customs guy waved us right through, so we didn't have to wait while they pawed through our luggage. Whoop!

Julio and Magdalena treated us to lunch before heading back to Carlos Paz, and then loaned us their car for the evening so we could get settled in and do a little shopping. That was nice because it gave me time to sweep and mop the casita before we unloaded our luggage from the car. It was also helpful because our car wouldn't start; Ivan had to charge it overnight.

Throughout the trip, we saw God's hand again and again, easing the transition in so many ways.

Before I start talking too much about life back in Argentina, I'm going to do a post or two about our last weekend in the states (Ivan's ordained! The quilt was finished!). I also wanted to let those inquiring-minds-who-want-to-know: Yes, the white bedspread made it here! And it looks very nice on our bed, adding more white to the space and giving the illusion that it's a bit bigger than it really is. Yeah for the power of white!

*The reason we were flagged at the airport and had to see a live person was due to the reciprocal tourist fee that Argentina has with the U.S., but from which we are exempted because we have permanent residency status here. Showing our national IDs took care of that hiccup.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Winding Down

The past two months flew by, as expected. We head home next Tuesday!

I won't lie, it's gonna be HARD to say goodbye, especially to our grandson. I plan on having a full box of tissues ready to use on the way to the airport and beyond.

As I sit here typing, Simon is happily ensconced in his swing. Reclining in the swing after eating helps minimize the amount of spit up (Si is a prolific spitter-upper) so I resist the urge to get him out and play. There's time for that once his tummy has had time to settle down.

Being a grandparent is the BEST! We have so enjoyed our time here, and have worked hard to get lots of hugs and cuddles in. They have to last for a couple years!

Later today we head to Michigan. This weekend will be busy with the ordination process. Tomorrow Ivan gets grilled by the ordination council and Sunday he'll be officially ordained. Exciting days!

We're grateful for this short two-month furlough, and all that we've been able to cram into it. Last year I put together a photo book of all the things we did on our furlough, but this year my photo book is Simon, more Simon and even more Simon. Gotta love those amazon local deals; I was able to do my Simon book for only $10! I'm so happy to have the book to take back, not only for me, but also to show all my friends. Who wouldn't want to see twenty pages of my adorable little grandbaby?!

I start packing today. Not looking forward to that. We always have to thin out and prioritize. I've been trying to take a white bedspread back with us, but the last three trips it ended up getting put aside "until next time". So the burning question is: Will it make the cut this year? I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat in anticipation so I'll be sure and let you know in the next post.

Some of the fun new things I've enjoyed this trip (besides Simon) include pretzel rolls, The Glades (via Netflix), cocoa roasted almonds, and discovering the Olympia Candy Kitchen in Goshen.

Then there are those things I always look forward to: checking books out of the library!, apple cider from Glei's (seriously the best cider ever), watching the news and understanding everything that is said, garage sales, driving through pristine countryside where everything is so neat and tidy, the sheer variety of fruits and vegetables that are available, the opportunity to eat out at ethnic restaurants, and bookstores.

["These are a few of my favorite things" just starting running through my head.]

The best part, of course, is time with family and friends. We haven't gotten to see as many people this time around, but we've thoroughly enjoyed the ones we have been able to visit. We're grateful for the hospitality extended to us, and the love and encouragement that so many have shared.

We are going to do our level best to get internet at the casita when we get back. Not a lot of options, so appreciate your prayers that somehow, some way, we can make it happen. But I really, REALLY want to be able to skype with our kids and grandkids. I want to be able to jump online and see Adalyn as soon as possible after she's born. I want to be able to talk to Simon so he doesn't forget my voice. I want to blog more frequently. I've missed this and the interaction with blog friends.

But even if we can make it happen, it will probably take some time. Meanwhile I'll try to get on when I can...when I'm not looking at my Simon book.